French urged to respect anti-virus rules as heatwave sweeping country

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PARIS, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- A heatwave is making mercury surge in many French cities on Friday, forcing the government to trigger heatwave alert system and call on people to respect anti-coronavirus sanitary rules despite high temperatures.

"Very intense heat peak in the southwest of Pays-de-la-Loire on Friday, followed by a long-lasting heat episode over much of France, marked notably by hot nights," the national weather agency Meteo France forecast.

Friday "will be the hottest day of the week over a large part of France," with maximum temperatures expected to swing between 37 and 40 and up to 42 degrees Celsius in the country's western areas.

Mercury will rise ruthlessly at least for the next six days, the weather agency predicted, adding that "the chronology and intensity of this episode are yet to be confirmed."

Meteo France has put 45 departments, including Ile-de-France (Paris and its suburb), under orange alert and decided to maintain it till Saturday morning.

Authorities have activated a level-three heatwave action plan, which involves setting up "cool rooms" in municipal buildings, opening pools for late-night swimming, and offering access to parks by nightfall to help people cool off.

Minister of Health Olivier Veran called on the French to "hold on," especially when the heatwave makes certain sanitary rules, mask-wearing in particular, hard to respect.

"Everywhere you have to be vigilant," said the minister during a visit to a nursing home in the southwest on Friday. "In the workplace, in nursing homes, in family reunions, in party circles, at restaurants or on the beach."

"The suspected risk of aerosol transmission ... justifies taking all possible means to fight against the virus," he said.

According to the ministry, France's new COVID-19 infections rose by 1,604 on Thursday, after Wednesday's 1,695. The number of patients in intensive care units went up by six to reach 390, a 10-day high. The overall death toll stood at 30,312, the seventh-highest in the world.

Amid signs of the epidemic resurgence, many cities have imposed mask-wearing rules in outdoor public spaces. Enditem

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